Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends
Ephesus Kebab Lounge
1321 Locust Street
Walnut Creek, CA 94596
Cuisine: Turkish Small Plates and Classic Kebab Plates
Pluses: excellent food, modern and fun lounge like atmosphere, good wine list
Minuses: some travel distance required from San Francisco, closer to Oakland
Don't Miss: Circasian Chicken, White Bean Salad, Bulgar Wraps and Kebabs
Prices: from $7 - $9 for tapas, $11-$18 for larger plates
Overview: Hours: Monday-Thursday: 11 am-10:00 pm; Friday & Saturday: 11 am-11:00 pm; Sunday: 4:30 pm-10:00 pm
Credit cards accepted
Walnut Creek has added a notch to its belt of ethnic eating spots since the opening of Ephesus Kebab Lounge. The modernity of the restaurant combined with exotic yet classic dishes makes for a real winning combination of great food and fun atmosphere.
Upon entering, the dark woods and orange and beige colored panels feel warm and inviting. A step up to the full bar for a cocktail or to browse a reasonably priced wine list is a great way to pass the time should there be a wait for a table. Voted Best of the East Bay on several occasions, the food surpasses the reputation handed out by even the toughest of critics.
Turkish born Hakki Groksever and his wife Camille, opened the restaurant with Hakki’s mother heading up the kitchen with two other competent chefs. Fabulous small plates and Kebab meals in both small plate and full dinner options hint at both European and Middle Eastern preparations. Immediately upon being seated, the waiters appear at each table to take drink orders and to display the various selections of cold small plates as a way to start the meal. Notable on the small plates is the addictive Circasian chicken, a chilled hummus like dish created by Hakki’s mother. The ground chicken, walnut and olive oil combination is rich and light all at the same time, perfectly seasoned with spices such as paprika and served along slightly crunchy olive oil grilled pita triangles. Also worth trying is the White Bean Salad and the Bulgar Wraps. The salad, a mixture of haricot beans, red onion, green Mediterranean pepper and olive oil (served cold) is savory and tangy and filling. A great way to combine an array of cold dishes would be to add the Bulgar Wraps, which are clean and crisp. Grains of red paprika colored bulgar fill crispy romaine lettuce leaves, arranged on modern plates, flavorful and healthy all at once.
For the hot small plates, the calamari, delicately seasoned, dipped in a beer batter and drizzled with a garlic vinegar is a winner. The rings of calamari are delicately fried and the sauce makes for just the right tang quotient. And don’t miss the fried zucchini cakes. The finely chopped zucchini is lighter than potato and perfectly seasoned with fresh mint, and a blend of feta and parmesan cheese. The garlic yogurt dipping sauce ties all of the sweet and savory elements that might make a second order worth placing.
The kebabs are succulent and generous and there are a multitude of choices from Chicken to Kobe Beef to Tiger Prawns. For the full dinner entrée, two kebabs are offered along with pita bread, a salad of greens, cucumbers and tomato, and a choice of rice pilaf or bulgar wheat. In addition to the meat kebabs, vegetarian is an option and all are grilled to perfection.
For a Turkish delignt and a great way to spend time in a hip mod atmosphere with a mom and pop feel count on Ephesus as an A List choice.